by Michael P Coleman

McDonald Profile credit Autumn de WildeWith six Tony Awards, the legendary Audra McDonald has earned more competitive Tonys than any other actor in Broadway history. While performing to standing-room-only audiences on many of the world’s great stages, she has also picked up two Grammy Awards and a long list of other accolades during her unprecedented career.

Contemporary TV audiences may know McDonald from her long-running stint on ABC’s “Private Practice”, while millions of others caught her bravura performance in NBC’s “The Sound Of Music Live!” in 2013 with Carrie Underwood. Most recently McDonald shares the silver screen with the legendary Meryl Streep in “Ricki and the Flash”.

In addition to her professional obligations, McDonald has been an ardent proponent of marriage equality, and last year she joined the Covenant House International Board of Directors, which oversees programs for homeless youth in 27 cities in six countries across the United States, Canada, and Latin America. With all of those roles, she says her favorites are those she performs offstage: wife to her husband, and mother to her daughter, Zoe Madeline.

On September 5th, McDonald will cast her spell on the Gallo Center in Modesto, performing her favorites from the Great American Songbook. I caught up with McDonald as she prepared for her Modesto show, and she talked about a few of her landmark projects, including her work with TV super producer Shonda Rhimes and Underwood. She also offered advice to young “hopefuls” who dream of a performing arts career, and told me how she felt the morning the Supreme Court ensured legal protection for all marriages in the United States.

This conversation has been edited.

I’m curious about your thoughts about arts programs that have been so radically cut, especially in communities like your Fresno hometown. What tips can you offer on how someone enrolled in the current public school system can nurture and cultivate their own performing arts gifts?

I was really lucky to have gone to the performing arts junior high and high school and participated in community theatre in Fresno. It was invaluable. I tell students that it doesn’t matter where you go to get on stage — just get on stage. If there’s a church musical or some community center [in your hometown], just perform. Volunteer your services, perform for a retirement home or something like that. The experience of being on stage, performing, and the relationship between the performer and the audience is the same no matter whether it’s for a few people in a nursing home in central California or Carnegie Hall. That communication between the performer and the audience is the same. So don’t discount any experience. It’s all good. It’s all helpful. It’s all necessary.

You made history by winning more competitive Tony Awards than any other artist in Broadway’s history. What did that mean to you?

My dream growing up was just to perform in one Broadway show. That’s all I wanted. Anything else that’s happened I’ve been incredibly grateful for and overwhelmed by, and it’s been beyond my greatest dreams. If I can inspire another young hopeful out there and let them know that he or she can do this too, then that makes it even more worthwhile. To be able to be a role model, and tell someone ‘Look where I came from. You can do the same thing” is incredibly fulfilling to me.

During your acceptance speech, you thanked the “strong and brave and courageous women” who’d preceded you, and said you stood on their shoulders. I’m wondering what you think about your place in that legacy, and whether there are newer artists today who are standing on your shoulders?

I’m very grateful for the shoulders that I’m standing on, and I hope to have broad shoulders that other performers can stand on and women can stand on and African American women can stand on and take us up into the stratosphere. That’s my hope and dream. There’s spectacular talent everywhere, there’s just opportunity that’s sometimes needed. I don’t think it’s right for me to say “…and they are standing on my shoulders…” because I consider them all to be colleagues. I do think about the young little girl at home who maybe sees me and says “Oh, she looks like me and she’s doing it. Why can’t I?”

I came to know you as an actress on Private Practice. I’m curious about your overall thoughts on that experience.

Private Practice was a great experience, working under Shonda Rhimes, one of the most powerful women in television. She has a brilliant mind, and she writes brilliantly. She puts no boundaries on characters, and she writes them as truthfully as she can. Thanks to her, I was honored to play Noami and have her be a very complicated, emotionally rich woman with many layers and colors and sides of her that didn’t play into many of the stereotypes that we still see in television, unfortunately.

Have you remained in touch with one of your colleagues on that show, Taye Diggs, and if so, have you had a chance to see him in Hedwig and the Angry Inch?

Taye and I met in 1993 so he’s someone that I’ve known for many decades now. I unfortunately have not been able to see him in Hedwig because I’ve been up in the Berkshires the entire time he’s been in the play. I’m sorry for that because I’m sure he’s spectacular and brilliant in it.

You were brilliant in the live Sound Of Music production a couple of years ago on NBC. I’d not seen any production of that show when I saw it, and you and Carrie Underwood and the whole cast made me a fan of that production. Carrie Underwood was savaged by many critics for her performance. What are your thoughts about working on that project, and working with Underwood?

Thank you! I loved working on that project. I was so honored that [producers] Craig Zadan and Neil Meron asked me to be a part of it, and were willing to cast that character in a colorblind way. Carrie Underwood has got to be one of the sweetest people and one of the hardest workers that I’ve ever met. I thought she was wonderful, and brave to take on a role as iconic as that, for one night only, completely live in front of millions and millions and millions of people, and do it as beautifully as she did. I thought she was wonderful, and I feel she was unfairly criticized. But what can you do? We work in this business and perform because we love to do it, and the inevitable part of that is you’re going to have critics [saying] you weren’t any good. We all have them. I was incredibly proud of her and the work that she did, and I loved being a part of that production, especially with Carrie.

Talk to me about Ricki and The Flash. What was working with Meryl Streep like?

An absolute dream come true. Watching Meryl Streep up close is an experience that I’ll not soon forget, if ever.

You were an early and stalwart proponent of marriage equality. Watching you express your support over the years was extremely inspiring. How did you feel last June when the Supreme Court made their landmark ruling?

I remember growing up, when I still believed in Santa Claus, and on Christmas morning going to the Christmas tree and seeing all of the presents for the first time. That’s exactly what that morning felt like for me. It made me believe in Santa Claus again. Santa Claus was Justice Kennedy and Ginsburg and whatnot, but I believe in him again! It was a beautiful day!

Speaking of Christmas, you’ve never done a holiday album. Could I talk you into recording one?

People have asked me that a lot over the years and I’ve not done one. Maybe I should at some point. Maybe this is the universe telling me I need to think about that.

Tickets for Audra McDonald’s September 5 performance at the Gallo Center are available at galloarts.org.

Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer. Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP.

 

by Michael P. Coleman

oI still remember spending summers in Vossburg, Mississippi with my grandparents,  My grandmother would wring the necks of a few chickens every Sunday after church, and fry some of the best yard bird known to humankind.  

Except for the lack of chicken feathers flying around the yard out front, everything else about Water’z Wing/z in Sacramento reminds me of my Grandma’s kitchen.

Let’s start with those glorious chicken wings.  Crispy, hot, perfectly seasoned, and just out of the grease when they’re delivered to your table.  They smelled so scrumptious that I literally burned the roof of my mouth on the first bite because I couldn’t wait for them to cool.  Ditto with the incredible fried catfish.  And the chicken strips.  And the fries.  And the onion rings -- and I typically don't even LIKE onion rings! 

Lest you think everything at Water’z Wing’z is deep fried —and a part of me thinks it SHOULD be —let me say that the macaroni and cheese rivals my mom’s (don’t tell her!), the greens are crazy good, the potato salad was near perfect (and I'm very picky about my potato salad), and the heavenly cake was very aptly named.  And I'm not the only one to think so:  regular customers drive from as far away as Antioch and Stockton for a meal. 

All of this from a restaurant that started almost twenty years ago in a garage. 

Water’z Wing’z owners Yvonne Bryant and Steven Wynne have been at it since 1997, and they just celebrated two years at their current location.  The menu’s expanded quite a bit over the years, and now includes rib tips, red hots, several other varieties of fish, peach cobbler, banana pudding…you name it.  They offer a rotating Weekend Hook Up that often goes FAR beyond their regular menu.  And they have plans to expand even further.

“We’d like to open up the other side of the building as a ‘grown folks club”by this fall,” Bryant told me as I wrapped up a recent lunch.  “You know, a place where people can come and eat and relax.  We want every piece of society to feel comfortable here —that’s what we’re trying to build.” 

I asked her what the most fulfilling part of running the restaurant was.

“The best part of it is seeing the satisfaction on the faces of the customers,”she shared, “and seeing them enjoying their meal.  We want ‘Water’z Wing’z to be an extension of our customer’s homes.” 

Wynne, for whom the restaurant is named (his nickname is “Sweetwater”) shared one of the secrets to the restaurant’s success. 

“I decided to keep the menu simple, and develop foods that had that perfect taste,”he said.  “I want to offer dishes that have that first smack, that first taste that makes you want to come back.”

Water’z Wing’z is at 7121 Governors Circle in Sacramento (right off of I-99 and Florin Road).  They are open Wednesdays-Sundays.  More information is available at www.waterzwingz.com.

 

Michael P. Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer who drives directly from Water'z Wingz to Planet Fitness.  You can catch him at michaelpcoleman.com, via email at mikelsmindseye@me.com, or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

by Michael P Coleman

IMG 2778Alice Walker very famously wrote “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” 

I agree with her —and I also think it pisses Him off when you hear internationally-renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli’s voice and don’t…pause.

Or cry.

Or faint.

I paused often, teared up a little, and could have fainted several times during Bocelli's standing-room-only performance at Sacramento's Sleep Train Arena Wednesday night.   I am rarely at a loss for words, but I was rendered completely speechless by the sheer majesty of the tenor's voice and presence.

The 7:30pm performance began just before 8pm, as gridlock in the parking lot prevented many —including this writer —from taking their seats on time. Performed by the San Francisco Festival Orchestra and the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera, the show's first half was dedicated to Bocelli's favorite arias, which delighted opera fans but could have turned off those of us who came to his throng by way of his pop hits.  It didn't.  Although I couldn't name a single performed piece, I repeatedly marveled at the legend's instrument -- both its power and his mastery of it -- while waiting to hear some of Bocelli's more accessible selections. 


That first moment came after a twenty minute intermission with the theme to The Godfather, after which Broadway and R & B star Heather Headley delivered a breathtaking version of "Over The Rainbow" that earned the night's first standing ovation.  It wasn't the last.   

IMG 2773We were up on our feet after almost every selection that followed, including "Amapola" and Elvis' "Love Me Tender" and "Can't Help Falling In Love".  At the end of the latter,  Bocelli held the final note for an impossibly long time, to the exasperated delight of duet partner Headley and the audience.  He followed that stunner up with the show's closer, fan favorite "Canto Della Terra" performed with soprano Maria Aleida. 

The first of three encores followed, with Bocelli bringing Headley back on stage for the third time  for the night's highlight, a jaw-dropping version of "The Prayer" that prompted the misty eyes I admitted to earlier.  I had never been more thankful to God for the ability to hear.   If you've not heard their version of this song, correct that.  Now. 


Watch Bocelli & Headley perform "The Prayer."
 

Bocelli chose just three North American cities for this leg of his tour before he heads to Europe this summer, and I'm thankful he chose Sacramento, where he hadn't performed since 2006.  I hope he comes back soon.  In the meantime, I have his CDs. All of them.

He's that good.  

Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com, via email at mikelsmindseye@me.com, or via Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP 

 

 

 

by Michael P. Coleman

Narada Michael WaldenNarada Michael Walden proved he was a force to be reckoned with when he coached the plaintive, yearning "Let Me Be Your Angel" out of a 13-year-old Stacy Lattisaw in 1979.  From there, he racked up hits with divas including Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Angela Bofill, and Aretha Franklin.  Walden consistently displayed a gift for showcasing what was unique in his musical partners, even as he made a name for himself as an artist in his own right.

Walden, 62, also wrote (with Richard Buskin) the best of the many books that followed Whitney Houston's death,  Whitney Houston:  The Voice, The Music, The Inspiration.  In it, the three time Grammy winner details the stories behind many of Houston's musical masterpieces.

Most recently, Walden is putting the finishing touches on the debut EP from Chayenne Elliott, a promising young singer who's signed to Walden's label and who also happens to be Dionne Warwick's granddaughter and Whitney Houston's cousin.

As Funky Town Grooves releases expanded editions of two of Walden's best productions, the classic Aretha Franklin albums Aretha(featuring the #1 multi-format smash duet with George Michael, "I Knew You Were Waiting For Me", "Jimmy Lee", and a stunning cover of "Look To The Rainbow") and Through The Storm(including powerful duets with Whitney Houston, James Brown, Elton John, The Four Tops, and Kenny G), I sat down with Walden in his recording studio in San Rafael and chatted with him about his iconic projects with the undisputed Queen of Soul.

Look to newsstands everywhere this weekfor the spring issue of The Hub magazine (featuring Mo'ne Davis on the cover) and our exclusive interview with Narada Michael Walden.  Also, look to sacculturalhub.com later this month for our expanded feature on Walden, including his stories about working with Ross, Houston, Carey, Quincy Jones and other legends- and his story about the diva who turned him down.

Narada Michael Walden's Whitney Houston: The Voice, The Music, The Inspirationis available at iBooks and Amazon.

Aretha and Through The Storm are available a funkytowngrooves.com

For more info about sharing your services and products in THE HUB Magazine call (916) 234-3589 or e-mail contact@sacculturalhub.com.  To subscribe and see past issues of THE HUB Magazine go to: http://www.sacculturalhub.com/expressmag.

Michael P. Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer who is always available.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com, via email at mikelsmindseye@me.com, or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

From HuffPost Living, The Huffington Post Canada

March 6, 2014

The spring 2014 time change may rob you of sleep, but it can also save your life in the long term, says a UBC professor.

"We live in a society that is chronically sleep-deprived, and very bad things happen when chronic sleep deprivation is an issue," Stanley Coren, former director of the school's Human Neuropsychology and Perception Laboratory, said in a Tuesday news release.

Workplace and car accident deaths have been known to increase five to seven per cent in the three days following the start of daylight saving time, he says.

But despite these negative numbers, the spring switch also saves lives in the long term because people are driving home when it's brighter out.

"People die during the period directly following the spring shift, but the data on traffic accidents show that accidents occur much more often during the dark or lower illumination than during daylight hours," he says.

"So although daylight saving time causes an initial hazard, in the end there is a life-saving benefit."

Coren is not alone in pointing out the hazards associated with daylight saving time.

The U.S. economy has been estimated to lose as much as $434 million due to heart attacks, workplace accidents and cyberloafing, as they relate to the spring time change, writes Dan Schecter, creator of SleepBetter.org.

Ultimately, Coren recommends that people go to bed earlier on the day of the change in order to combat potential negative effects. After all, your body is going to wake up earlier anyway.

"It is harder to sleep later because humans tend to awaken fairly automatically," he said. "Our eyelids are not opaque and most people are sensitive to increases in light, so we tend to wake up before our alarms go off because of that."

Here's a look at some of the movies opening today, Friday, August 16.

"Lee Daniels' The Butler"
(From IMDB.com) An African-American's eyewitness accounts of notable events of the 20th century during his tenure as a White House butler. Starring Forest Whitaker, David Oyelowo, Lenny Kravitz, and Oprah Winfrey.
Watch the trailer

"Kick Ass 2"
(From IMDB.com) The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows. Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Jim Carrey.
Watch the trailer

"Paranoia"
The two most powerful tech billionaires in the world are bitter rivals with a complicated past who will stop at nothing to destroy each other. A young superstar, seduced by unlimited wealth and power falls between them, and becomes trapped in the middle of the twists and turns of their life-and-death game of corporate espionage. By the time he realizes his life is in danger, he is in far too deep and knows far too much for them to let him walk away. Starring Amber Heard, Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, and Gary Oldman.
Watch the trailer

Sac Cultural Hub is proud to present this year's 2015 Exceptional Women of Color (EWOC) Honorees. From CEOs to retirees, principals to mothers, this year's honorees represent everything a woman is and can be.

All of these women, from across Northern California, have overcome multiple obstacles to becom pillars of our community. Help us celebrate these unsung heroines by attending the 7th Annual Exceptional Women of Color (EWOC) Networking Brunch & Wellness Conference on Saturday, October 3, 2015 from 8 am to 2 pm at the Hilton Arden West Sacramento, 2200 Harvard Street, Sacramento CA 95815. Don't miss the presentation of EWOC Excellence Awards to these exceptional women at the EWOC Conference.

Click here to buy tickets online!


EWOC HonoreeWhat is an Exceptional Woman of Color (EWOC) and why THE HUB Celebrates EWOCs every year! An EWOC is unsung heroine who has made significant achievements and accomplishments that go unrecognized by mainstream media. An EWOC is a woman who effortlessly serves as a role model while juggling the multiple tasks of:

  • Being a mother and/or wife
  • Working full-time
  • Volunteering in the community
  • Mastering her career goals
  • Managing her own business
  • Succeeding in her job and receiving prestigious promotions
  • Pushing the limits of her boundaries to achieve excellence


An EWOC does all of these things inspite of the countless obstacles and insurmountable hardships that she is faced with on a daily basis. She continues to be an "overcomer", where her smile, beauty, personality, and confidence exhibits the very essence of true success.

CONGRATULATIONS 2015 EWOC HONOREES!!!

 

Sindy G. Ausmer
Senior Advocate, Community Engagement
Molina Healthcare of California
Category: Social Welfare & Community Activism

 

Tina Boatman Patterson
Executive Director
California Housing Finance Agency
Category: Management and the Professions

Holly Brown

Holly Brown
Membership Service Representative
Schools Financial Credit Union
Category: Arts and Culture

Davin Brown
Davin Brown
Director of Student Engagement & Outreach/Adjunct Faculty
Sacramento State University and Drexel University
Category: Education and Research

Addie Ellis
Addie Ellis
Chief Operations Officer
The Koci Group
Category: Entrepreneur/Innovator

 

Katrina Jackson

Katrina Jackson
Director of Administration and Finance
El Dorado Hills Community Services District
Category: Management and the Professions

Margaret Lee

Margaret Lee
Co-Owner
Herkie-13 Cheerleading
Lifestyle Clothing
Category:Entrepreneur/Innovator

Lauren Lee

Lauren Lee
Co-Owner
Herkie-13 Cheerleading
Lifestyle Clothing
Category: Young Women of Distinction

 

Rose Lyles
Co-Founder
Bay Area Black Expo
Category: Social Welfare & Community Activism

Sandra Poole

Sandra Poole
Deputy Director
California Black Health Network
Category: Politics & Government Relations

Dia Poole

Dia Poole
President
California State University Alumni Council
Category: Politics & Government Relations

Nailah Pope-Harden

Nailah Pope-Harden
Parent Organizer
California Charter Schools Association
Category: Social Welfare & Community Activism

Madalynn C. RuckerMadalynn C. Rucker
Founder/CEO
ONTRACK Program Resources
Category: Social Welfare & Community Activism

 

Marianna SousaMarianna Sousa
Business Owner/Stylist
Nappy Star Exclusive Natual Hair Care
Category: Social Welfare & Community Activism

 

Michelle SpencerMichele Spencer
Executive Officer-Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Reserve
Category: Politics & Government Relations

 

 

Melen Vue
Director of Community Engagement
National Association on _____ ?
Category: Community Action

 


Gloria Torres
Covered California Coordinator
LaFamilia Counseling Center, Inc.
Category:Social Welfare & Community Activism

 

     

Here's a look at some of the movies opening tomorrow, Friday, April 5.

"Evil Dead"
In the much anticipate remake of the 1981 cult-hit horror film, five 20-something friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival. Starring Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas and Lou Taylor Pucci.
Watch the trailer

"Jurassic Park 3D"
Universal Pictures will release Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking classic "Jurassic Park" in 3D, introducing the three-time Academy Award winning blockbuster to a new generation of moviegoers and allowing longtime fans to experience the world he envisioned in a way that was unimaginable during the film's original release. Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson, and Richard Attenborough.
Watch the trailer

"Trance" (Limited)
A fine art auctioneer, mixed up with a criminal gang, joins forces with a hynotherapist to recover a lost painting. Starring James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, and Danny Sapani.
Watch the trailer

"The Company You Keep" (Limited)
(From IMDB.com) A thriller centered on a former Weather Underground activist who goes on the run from a journalist who has discovered his identity. Starring Robert Redford, Brit Marling, Stanely Tucci, and Nick Nolte.
Watch the trailer

"Free Angela & All Political Prisoners" (Limited)
A feature-length documentary on legendary activist and icon Angela Davis. The high stakes crime, political movement, and trial that catapults the 26-year-old, newly-appointed philosophy professor at the University of California at Los Angeles into a 70s revolutionary political icon. Nearly 40 years later, and for the first time, Angela Davis speaks frankly about the actions that branded her as a terrorist and simultaneously spurred a worldwide political movement for her freedom. Starring Angela Davis and Eisa Davis.
Watch the trailer